How effective is manual palpation in detecting subtle temperature differences?

Clin Podiatr Med Surg. 1998 Jan;15(1):151-4.


In the management of diabetic, neuropathic sequelae, namely ulceration and Charcot's arthropathy, appropriate quantification of inflammation is critically important in predicting future events and charting current progress. This article evaluates the ability of the physician to quantify subtle differences in temperature through manual palpation. The "laying on of hands" in a clinical setting is a necessary, crucial component of the doctor-patient relationship; however, our data suggest that manual palpation, even in a controlled environment, may not be an objective means to assess temperature, a cardinal sign of inflammation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diabetic Foot / diagnosis
  • Diabetic Foot / physiopathology
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / diagnosis
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Palpation / standards*
  • Skin Temperature*
  • Thermosensing*